Like a number of builders, Low Bicycles already had some time int he spotlight thanks to their winning track bike, but the rest of their bikes are worth checking out as well. Specifically, this gravel prototype. Typically known for their aluminum track and road frames, Andrew Low says he wanted to try something different for NAHBS and put together this beauty. He still plans on some tweaks to the design, but the Low Gravel proto was already looking pretty polished…

We don’t see a lot of aluminum bikes at shows like NAHBS any more, but that doesn’t mean builders aren’t out there doing amazing things with the material. One of the things that sets Low apart is their use of what they call FLEXshape tubing – aluminum tubes that are shaped, butted, and tuned all in house. Somehow, Low is able to achieve the looks of hydroforming with a mechanical process that is all done in their workshop in San Francisco.

Combined with their multi-pass smooth welding, and you get hand built bikes with an incredibly polished look. The Gravel bike is a disc brake, thru axle equipped frame that currently has clearance for 39-40mm tires. Andrew says he is working on improving that number with shaping of the stays. Otherwise it has a lot of the same visual cues as their mki road or cross bike.

All of the bikes in Low’s booth had special finishes for the show which involved complicated masking for the powdercoating. Andrew says all of their bikes typically have one solid color of powdercoat, but they wanted to do something different for the show. That meant doing all the masking themselves before sending them off to powder, and adding the rad textured finishes to the top tubes. It seems to have paid off with a win for Best Track Bike, and a lot of attention for their other bikes.

lowbicycles.com

 

7 COMMENTS

  1. I went over to Andrew’s shop the other week and checked out these bikes. I can confirm that the gravel bike is an absolute cherry – something about it feels very ‘right’ – and the graphics are sublime. Highly tempting.

  2. I met Andrew at last year’s NAHBS and was impressed by his homage to the big-tubed Cannondales and Kleins of the 80s and 90s (which I happened to ride for years). I purchased an mk i road and I’m pleased to say it’s a case of truth in advertising — stiff but not as bone-crunching as the old school aluminum bikes, relatively light (16 lbs exactly, WITH pedals, on a size 56 frame with clincher wheels and almost no weight weenie parts), just plain fun and fast. It also was a pleasure to work with operations manager Kelly on the order. All out of a tiny workshop in San Francisco!

    • Hi Brett. I think Low applies a powder coat and decals first, and then clear coats it. On their ordering site, there is a choice of gloss or matte clear coat.

  3. Serious question:
    What’s the long-term durability / longevity of a light aluminum bike like this?
    I just imagine riding washboard roads until one day… Snap.

    Those shaped tubes are pretty, but makes me think “You did WHAT to those tubes to get them to that shape?” … Stilly pretty.

    • There are lots of aluminum gravel and cyclocross bikes out there.

      Mine is just one example, a 2014 Giant TCX SLR 2 with triple-butted 6011A tubing, that’s had rubber from 28 mm to 35 mm in its dropouts. In my experience, it stands up well to bad roads longevity-wise. I’m pretty sure there are loads of other riders with similar bikes (Scott Speedster CX, Cannondale CAADX, Niner RLT9, etc) that have had good experiences.

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